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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: A Cut For A Cut (Detective Kate Young 2) by Carol Wyer

Published: June 29th, 2021
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Crime Fiction, Crime Series, Police Procedural
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Carol Wyer’s latest sensational thriller. Thank you to Emma at Damppebbles Blog Tours for the invitation to take part and to Carol for the gifted signed copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

DI Kate Young can’t trust anybody. Not even herself.

In the bleak countryside around Blithfield Reservoir, a serial murderer and rapist is leaving a trail of bloodshed. His savage calling card: the word ‘MINE’ carved into each of his victims.

DI Kate Young struggles to get the case moving―even when one of the team’s own investigators is found dead in a dumpster. But Kate is battling her own demons. Obsessed with exposing Superintendent John Dickson and convinced there’s a conspiracy running deep in the force, she no longer knows who to trust. Kate’s crusade has already cost her dearly. What will she lose next?

When her stepsister spills a long-buried secret, Kate realises she’s found the missing link―now she must prove it before the killer strikes again. With enemies closing in on all sides, she’s prepared to do whatever it takes to bring them down. But time is running out, and Kate’s past has pushed her to the very edge. Can she stop herself from falling?

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MY REVIEW:

“You’re mine, forever.”

All the stars for the latest exciting and addictive thriller from the lady who has rightly been referred to as the Queen of Crime. I personally think that the Kate Young series is Wyer’s best series yet, and I am loving these darker, gritter books.

In the series’ second installment, Kate and her team are trying to find a cold, calculated and controlled killer who stalks his victims before brutally attacking them and branding them by carving the word ‘MINE’ into their back. As the attacks escalate, the clock is ticking and the team races to find this twisted killer before he can claim another victim. But clues are in short supply until Kate’s stepsister Tilly provides the link they’ve been missing. Can they find him before it’s too late?

Propelling you straight into the action, I was hooked from the first pages. Compulsive, suspenseful and unsettling, danger is woven into every page. There is an undercurrent fear as the killer stalks his victims. This ruthless predator who enjoys their anguish and pain could be anyone, and Wyer had me coming up with some wild theories about his identity and suspecting almost every male character. Adding to the sense of mistrust is Kate’s secret investigation into the death of her husband and corruption within the force.

Ms. Wyer is skilled at writing characters who are both relatable and totally unique. They have something different about them, and Kate Young is a perfect example. She helps this series stand out from the glut of other crime series out there because she is original, fresh and compelling. No other protagonist I know of has conversations with their dead husband as if he’s still living. But while she is a little kooky, she is also intelligent, fierce, determined and fractured, making the reader care about her and respect her outlook and decisions, something else that is vital in a protagonist and police detective.

But what I think I love most about Carol is her villains. She has written some brilliantly mencacing antagonists, with this one being another to add to that list. This man is a terrifying creation; a man who is deeply disturbed and unhinged, yet is able to hide it all behind a mask of normality that allows him to walk amongst others unnoticed, those around him unaware they are in the presence of a monster. His chapters were chilling, ominous and searing, the hatred and vengeance seeping from every word.

Wonderfully dark, sinister and exhilarating, A Cut For A Cut is perfect for anyone who loves crime fiction, police procedurals or TV shows such as Line of Duty. This is one not to be missed.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

A former teacher and linguist, Carol began writing full-time in 2009 and enjoyed much success with several comedies and humorous non-fiction books, one of which, Grumpy Old Menopause won her the People’s Book Prize Award in 2015. 

January 2017, saw her move into police procedurals withLittle Girl Lost, the first in the DI Robyn Carter series, that featured in USA Today Top 150 best selling books and became the #2 best-selling book on Amazon. The books, set in Staffordshire where Carol has lived for over 30 years, earned her acclaim as a crime writer and in 2018, a new team lead by DI Natalie Ward was introduced to her readers.

Carol’s crime novels have since sold over half a million copies and been translated worldwide.

As well as writing crime, Kindle top 5 best-seller Carol also still writes comedies because as the ex-stand-up comedian claims, “Laughter is the best medicine”.

Carol has been interviewed on numerous radio shows discussing ”Irritable Male Syndrome’ and ‘Ageing Disgracefully’ and on BBC Breakfast television. She has had articles published in national magazines ‘Woman’s Weekly’ featured in ‘Take A Break’, ‘Choice’, ‘Yours’ and ‘Woman’s Own’ magazines and the Huffington Post.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones*| Bookshop.org*| Amazon*
*These are affiliate links

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Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: Truth Or Dare (DI Helen Grace 10) by M. J. Arlidge

Published: June 24th, 2021
Publisher: Orion
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Hardboiled, Crime Fiction, Crime Series, Police Procedural, Adventure Ficiton

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for the latest brilliant thriller in the DI Helen Grace Series. Thank you to Tracy at Compulsive Readers Tours for the invitation to take part and to Orion for the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

DO YOU WANT TO PLAY THE GAME?

THE BRAND NEW THRILLER FROM THE MIND OF MILLION-COPY BESTSELLER M. J. ARLIDGE

A crimewave sweeps through the city and no-one is safe. An arson at the docks. A carjacking gone wrong. A murder in a country park. What connects all these crimes without causes, which leave no clues?

Detective Inspector Helen Grace faces the rising tide of cases which threatens to drown the city. But each crime is just a piece of a puzzle which is falling into place.

And when it becomes clear just how twisted and ingenious this web of crime is, D.I. Grace will realise that it may be impossible to stop it . . .

THE BEST BOOK YET FROM THE MASTER OF THE KILLER THRILLER.

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MY REVIEW:

“So much bloodshed, so much heartache of late, yet so little to go on. Recently, Helen had felt like she was swimming with one hand tied behind her back, drowning in a rising tide of violence and brutality.”

Helen and her team are under pressure. They are facing an unprecedented crime wave following the Covid-19 Pandemic; seemingly unrelated crimes without motive and leave few clues. Things feel out of control and they are yielding few results, which the press aren’t letting them forget. But then evidence emerges that suggests these crimes could be linked. Could one mastermind really be behind it all? Pulling the strings like a twisted puppeteer? And, more importantly, can Helen find and stop them?

Gripping, atmospheric and addictive, this 10th installment in the fantastic DI Helen Grace series was every bit as compelling as the previous books. I devoured it quickly, unable to put it down once I’d started reading. I always enjoy coming back to a series I love and being immersed in the familiar world and characters that the author has created. Helen and her team have been part of my reading world for a decade now and I’ve enjoyed following their journey and watching them solve crimes over the years.

In Truth or Dare Helen is facing some of her greatest challenges yet. Not only is she facing the rise in crimes that are difficult to solve, but there is also mounting tension between herself and her team, particularly her and former lover Joseph Hudson, who is determined to undermine her at every turn. She finds herself not only fighting crime, but fighting for her career and reputation. I loved the extra tension this created and how you are constantly wondering if this could be the end for our beloved but beleaguered detective. I won’t spoil the surprise about whether or not it is. You’ll have to read it for yourself and find out. And while this could be read as a standalone, I do highly recommend the whole series. It’s one you won’t regret adding to your TBR.

One of the things I love about M. J. Arlidge is that he knows how to set the scene so vividly that it is like you’re watching it on a TV screen. You feel like you are there with the characters, feeling every moment of tension, frustration, despair and disappointment. He also smoothly juggles multiple plot lines, effortless weaving them together in surprising ways. I always fall for his red herrings as he expertly sends the reader looking in the wrong direction before blindsiding you with the jaw-dropping truth. 

Tense, twisty, dark and cunningly crafted, Truth or Dare is another unmissable thriller from the brilliant M. J. Arlidge. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

M. J. Arlidge has worked in television for the last twenty years, specializing in high-end drama production, including prime-time crime serials Silent Witness, Torn, The Little House and, most recently, the hit ITV show Innocent. In 2015 his audiobook exclusive Six Degrees of Assassination was a number-one bestseller. His debut thriller, Eeny Meeny, was the UK’s bestselling crime debut of 2014. It was followed by the bestselling Pop Goes the Weasel, The Doll’s House, Liar Liar, Little Boy Blue, Hide and Seek and Love Me Not. Down to the Woods is the eighth DI Helen Grace thriller. In 2019 he published a standalone thriller, A Gift for Dying.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones* | Amazon* | Google Books | Apple Books | Kobo
*These are affiliate links

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Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

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Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Emma’s Anticipated Treasures – July 2021

I can’t quite believe that we’re so far into the year that I’m writing July’s anticipated treasures. And it was a tough one to do. July is so packed with fantastic releases that I had about 15 more books I could have added to this list. There were six more on it but I made myself cut it down to ‘just’ twenty-one titles.

So here is what made my list of most anticipated books in July:

The Rule by David Jackson

Published: July 1st, 2021
Publisher: Viper

SYNOPSIS:
MY DAD SAYS BAD THINGS
HAPPEN WHEN I BREAK IT…

Daniel is looking forward to his birthday. He wants fish and chips, a big chocolate cake, and a comic book starring his favourite superhero. And as long as he follows The Rule, nothing bad will happen. But Daniel has no idea that he’s about to kill a stranger.

Daniel’s parents know that their beloved and vulnerable son will be taken away. They know that Daniel didn’t mean to hurt anyone, he just doesn’t know his own strength. They dispose of the body. Isn’t that what any loving parent would do? But as forces on both sides of the law begin to close in on them, they realise they have no option but to finish what they started. Even if it means that others will have to die…

Because they’ll do anything to protect Daniel. Even murder.

Buy here*

This Shining Life by Harriet Kline

Published: July 1st, 2021
Publisher: Doubleday

SYNOPSIS:
For Rich, life is golden.
He fizzes with happiness and love.
But Rich has an incurable brain tumour.

When Rich dies, he leaves behind a family without a father, a husband, a son and a best friend. His wife, Ruth, can’t imagine living without him and finds herself faced with a grief she’s not sure she can find her way through.
At the same time, their young son Ollie becomes intent on working out the meaning of life. Because everything happens for a reason. Doesn’t it?

But when they discover a mismatched collection of presents left by Rich for his loved ones, it provides a puzzle for them to solve, one that will help Ruth navigate her sorrow and help Ollie come to terms with what’s happened. Together, they will learn to lay the ghosts of the past to rest, and treasure the true gift that Rich has left them: the ability to embrace life and love every moment.

Harriet Kline weaves together the voices of a grieving family and paints an achingly beautiful picture of love in all its forms: absent, lost and, ultimately, regained.

Buy here*

The Tsarina’s Daughter by Ellen Alpsten

Published: July 8th, 2021
Publisher: Bloomsbury

SYNOPSIS:
When they took everything from her, they didn’t count on her fighting to get it back… Born into the House of Romanov to the all-powerful Peter the Great and Catherine I, beautiful Tsarevna Elizabeth is the world’s loveliest Princess and the envy of the Russian empire. Insulated by luxury and as a woman free from the burden of statecraft, Elizabeth is seemingly born to pursue her passions. However, a dark prophecy predicts her fate as inexorably twined with Russia. When her mother dies, Russia is torn, masks fall, and friends become foes. Elizabeth’s idyllic world is upended. By her twenties she is penniless and powerless, living under constant threat. As times change like quicksand, an all-consuming passion emboldens Elizabeth: she must decide whether to take up her role as Russia’s ruler, and what she’s willing to do for her country – and for love.

Buy here*

The Hollows by Mark Edwards

Published: July 8th, 2021
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

SYNOPSIS:
From the bestselling author of The House Guest comes a chilling story set deep in the woods…

With his marriage over and his career in freefall, journalist Tom decides to reconnect with his fourteen-year-old daughter, Frankie. Desperate to spend precious time together now that they live an ocean apart, he brings her to Hollow Falls, a cabin resort deep in the woods of Maine.

From the outset there’s something a little eerie about the place―strange whispers in the trees, windchimes echoing through the forest―but when Tom meets true-crime podcasters David and Connie, he receives a chilling warning. Hollow Falls has a gruesome history: twenty years ago this week, a double slaying shut down the resort. The crime was never solved, and now the woods are overrun with murder-obsessed tourists looking to mark the grim anniversary.

It’s clear that there’s something deeply disturbing going on at Hollow Falls. And as Tom’s dream trip turns into a nightmare, he and Frankie are faced with a choice: uncover the truth, or get out while they still can.

Buy here*

I Know What You’ve Done by Dorothy Koomson

Published: July 8th, 2021
Publisher: Headline

SYNOPSIS:
What if all your neighbours’ secrets landed in a diary on your doorstep?

What if the woman who gave it to you was murdered by one of the people in the diary?

What if the police asked if you knew anything?

Would you hand over the book of secrets?

Or … would you try to find out what everyone had done?

I Know What You’ve Done is the unputdownable thriller from the Queen of the Big Reveal.

Buy here*

Damage by Caitlin Waher

Published: July 8th, 2021
Publisher: Michael Joseph

SYNOPSIS:
Sometimes, the true story is the hardest to believe.

TONY has always looked out for his younger brother, Nick. So when Nick is badly hurt and it looks like he was the victim of sexual assault, Tony’s anger flares.

JULIA is alarmed by her husband Tony’s obsession with Nick’s case. She’s always known Tony has a temper. But does she really know what he’s capable of?

NICK 
went out for a drink. After that, everything’s a blank. When he woke up he found himself in a world of confusion and pain, and the man who hurt him doesn’t deny doing it. But he says the whole thing was consensual.

Three ordinary people; one life-shattering event. When the police get involved with this family in crisis, all the cracks will start to show . . .

Set to ignite debate and as gripping as your favourite box-set, Damage is a compulsive drama from an extraordinary new writer.

Buy here*

That Night by Gillian McAllister

Published: July 8th, 2021
Publisher: Michael Jospeh

SYNOPSIS:
What would you do to protect your family?

ANYTHING.

During a family holiday in Italy, you get an urgent call from your sister.

There’s been an accident: she hit a man with her car and he’s dead.

She’s overcome with terror – fearing years in a foreign jail away from her child.

She asks for your help. It wasn’t her fault, not really. She’d cover for you, so will you do the same for her?

But when the police come calling, the lies start. And you each begin to doubt your trust in one another.

What really happened that night?

Who is lying to who?

Who will be the first to crack?

Buy here*

Songbirds by Christy Leferti

Published: July 8th, 2021
Publisher: Manilla Press

SYNOPSIS:
She walks unseen through our world.
Cares for our children, cleans our homes.
She has a story to tell.
Will you listen?

Nisha has crossed oceans to give her child a future. By day she cares for Petra’s daughter; at night she mothers her own little girl by the light of a phone.

Nisha’s lover, Yiannis, is a poacher, hunting the tiny songbirds on their way to Africa each winter. His dreams of a new life, and of marrying Nisha, are shattered when she vanishes.

No one cares about the disappearance of a domestic worker, except Petra and Yiannis. As they set out to search for her, they realise how little they know about Nisha. What they uncover will change them all.

Buy here*

Meet Me In Another Life by Catriona Silvey

Published: July 8th, 2021
Publisher: Harper Voyager

SYNOPSIS:
Joyful, devastating, and profound, Meet Me in Another Life is a story of love and connection in every possible form that will captivate fans of Stuart Turton, Claire North, and Audrey Niffenegger.

Thora and Santi have met before…

Under the clocktower in central Cologne, with nothing but the stars above and their futures ahead.

They will meet again…

They don’t know it yet, but they’ll meet again: in numerous lives they will become friends, colleagues, lovers, enemies – meeting over and over for the first time, every time; each coming to know every version of the other.

Only they can make sure it’s not for the last time.

But as they’re endlessly drawn together and the lines between their different lives begin to blur, they are faced with one question: why?

They must discover the truth of their strange attachment before this, and all their lives, are lost forever.

Buy here*

Olympus, Texas by Stacey Swann

Published: July 8th, 2021
Publisher: W&N

SYNOPSIS:
When March Briscoe returns to East Texas two years after he was caught having an affair with his brother’s wife, the Briscoe family becomes once again the talk of the small town of Olympus. His mother, June, hardly welcomes him back with open arms. Her husband’s own past affairs have made her tired of being the long-suffering spouse. Is it, perhaps, time for a change?
But within days of March’s arrival, someone is dead, marriages are upended, and even the strongest of alliances are shattered. In the end, the ties that hold them together might be exactly what drag them all down.

An expansive tour de force, Olympus, Texas combines the archetypes of Greek and Roman mythology with the psychological complexity of a messy family. After all, at some point, we all wonder: what good is this destructive force we call love?

Buy here*

The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix

Published: July 13th, 2021
Publisher: Titan

SYNOPSIS:
A fast-paced, thrilling horror novel that follows a group of heroines to die for, from the brilliant New York Times bestselling author of The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires.

In horror movies, the final girl is the one who’s left standing when the credits roll. The one who fought back, defeated the killer, and avenged her friends. The one who emerges bloodied but victorious. But after the sirens fade and the audience moves on, what happens to her?

Lynnette Tarkington survived a massacre twenty-two years ago, and it has defined every day of her life since. And she’s not alone. For more than a decade she’s been meeting with five other final girls and their therapist in a support group for those who survived the unthinkable, putting their lives back together, piece by piece. That is until one of the women misses a meeting and Lynnette’s worst fears are realized―someone knows about the group and is determined to take their lives apart again, piece by piece.

But the thing about these final girls is that they have each other now, and no matter how bad the odds, how dark the night, how sharp the knife, they will never, ever give up.

Buy here*

Before You Knew My Name by Jacqueline Bublitz

Published: July 15th, 2021
Publisher: Sphere

SYNOPSIS:
This is not just another novel about a dead girl.

When she arrived in New York on her 18th birthday carrying nothing but $600 cash and a stolen camera, Alice was looking for a fresh start. Now, just one month later, she is the city’s latest Jane Doe, an unidentified murder victim.

Ruby Jones is also trying to start over; she travelled halfway around the world only to find herself lonelier than ever. Until she finds Alice Lee’s body by the Hudson River.

From this first, devastating encounter, the two women form an unbreakable bond. Alice is sure that Ruby is the key to solving the mystery of her life – and death. And Ruby – struggling to forget what she saw that morning – finds herself unable to let Alice go. Not until she is given the ending she deserves.

Before You Knew My Name doesn’t ask whodunnit. Instead, this powerful, hopeful novel asks: Who was she? And what did she leave behind? The answers might surprise you.

Buy here*

The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell

Published: July 22nd, 2021
Publisher: Century

SYNOPSIS:
“Mum, there’s some people here from college, they asked me back to theirs. Just for an hour or so. Is that OK?”

Midsummer 2017: teenage mum Tallulah heads out on a date, leaving her baby son at home with her mother, Kim.

At 11pm she sends her mum a text message. At 4.30am Kim awakens to discover that Tallulah has not come home.

Friends tell her that Tallulah was last seen heading to a pool party at a house in the woods nearby called Dark Place.

Tallulah never returns.

2018: walking in the woods behind the boarding school where her boyfriend has just started as a head-teacher, Sophie sees a sign nailed to a fence.

A sign that says: DIG HERE . . .
A cold case. An abandoned mansion. A family hiding a terrible secret.
Prepare to be hooked. Lisa Jewell’s latest thriller is her best yet.

Buy here*

The Beresford by Will Carver

Published: July 22nd, 2021
Publisher: Orenda

SYNOPSIS:
Everything stays the same for the tenants of The Beresford, a grand old apartment building just outside the city … until the doorbell rings… Will Carver returns with an eerie, deliciously and uncomfortably dark standalone thriller.
 
Just outside the city – any city, every city – is a grand, spacious but affordable apartment building called The Beresford.
 
There’s a routine at The Beresford.
 
For Mrs May, every day’s the same: a cup of cold, black coffee in the morning, pruning roses, checking on her tenants, wine, prayer and an afternoon nap. She never leaves the building.
 
Abe Schwartz also lives at The Beresford. His housemate, Sythe, no longer does. Because Abe just killed him. 
 
In exactly sixty seconds, Blair Conroy will ring the doorbell to her new home and Abe will answer the door. They will become friends. Perhaps lovers.
 
And, when the time comes for one of them to die, as is always the case at The Beresford, there will be sixty seconds to move the body before the next unknowing soul arrives at the door.
 
Because nothing changes at The Beresford, until the doorbell rings…
 
Eerie, dark, superbly twisted and majestically plotted, The Beresford is the stunning standalone thriller from one of crime fiction’s most exciting names.

Buy here*

Daughters of Sparta by Claire Heywood

Published: July 22nd, 2021
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

SYNOPSIS:
Two sisters parted. Two women blamed. Two stories reclaimed.

For millennia, two women have been blamed for the fall of a mighty civilisation – but now it’s time to hear their side of the story . . .

As princesses of Sparta, Helen and Klytemnestra have known nothing but luxury and plenty. With their high birth and unrivalled beauty, they are the envy of all of Greece.

Such privilege comes at a high price, though, and their destinies are not theirs to command. While still only girls they are separated and married off to legendary foreign kings Agamemnon and Menelaos, never to meet again. Their duty is now to give birth to the heirs society demands and be the meek, submissive queens their men expect.

But when the weight of their husbands’ neglect, cruelty and ambition becomes too heavy to bear, they must push against the constraints of their sex to carve new lives for themselves – and in doing so make waves that will ripple throughout the next three thousand years.

Perfect for readers of Circe and Ariadne, Daughters of Sparta is a vivid and illuminating retelling of the Siege of Troy that tells the story of mythology’s most vilified women from their own mouths at long last.

Buy here*

How To Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie

Published: July 22nd, 2021
Publisher: The Borough Press

SYNOPSIS:
· Kill my family
· Make a claim on their fortune
· Get away with the above
· Adopt a dog

Meet Grace Bernard.
Daughter, sister, colleague, friend, serial killer…
Grace has lost everything. And now she wants revenge.
How to Kill Your Family is a fierce and addictive novel about class, family, love… and murder.

Buy here*

The Ophelia Girls by Jane Healey

Published: July 22nd, 2021
Publisher: Mantle

SYNOPSIS:
A mother’s secret past collides with her daughter’s present in this intoxicating novel from Jane Healey, the author of The Animals at Lockwood Manor.

In the summer of 1973, teenage Ruth and her four friends are obsessed with pre-Raphaelite paintings, and a little bit obsessed with each other. They spend the scorching summer days in the river by Ruth’s grand family home, pretending to be the drowning Ophelia and recreating tableaus of other tragic mythical heroines. But by the end of the summer, real tragedy has found them.

Twenty-four years later, Ruth is a wife and mother of three children, and moves her family into her still-grand, but now somewhat dilapidated, childhood home following the death of her father. Her seventeen-year-old daughter, Maeve, is officially in remission and having been discharged from hospital can finally start acting like a ‘normal’ teenager with the whole summer ahead of her. It’s just the five of them until Stuart, a handsome photographer and old friend of her parents, comes to stay. And there’s something about Stuart that makes Maeve feel more alive than all of her life-saving treatments put together . . .

As the heat of the summer burns, how long can the family go before long-held secrets threaten to burst their banks and drown them all?

Set between two fateful summers, The Ophelia Girls is a visceral, heady exploration of illicit desire, infatuation and the perils and power of being a young woman.

here*

Hope Nicely’s Lessons For Life by Caroline Day

Published: July 22nd, 2021
Publisher: Zaffre

SYNOPSIS:
I don’t have any friends, only dog ones, because they don’t make you do bad things. I don’t want any human friends, actually. It’s for the best.’

Hope Nicely hasn’t had an easy life.

But she’s happy enough living at 23 Station Close with her mum, Jenny Nicely, and she loves her job, walking other people’s dogs. She’s a bit different, but as Jenny always tells her, she’s a rainbow person, a special drop of light.

It’s just . . . there’s something she needs to know. Why did her birth mother abandon her in a cardboard box on a church step twenty-five years ago? And did she know that drinking while pregnant could lead to Hope being born with Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder?

In a bid to find her birth mother and the answers to these questions, Hope decides to write her autobiography. Despite having been bullied throughout school, Hope bravely joins an evening class where Hope will not only learn the lessons of writing, but will also begin to discover more about the world around her, about herself and even make some (human) friends.

But when Jenny suddenly falls ill, Hope realises there are many more lessons to come . . .

Hope Nicely’s Lessons for Life is a heartwarming, coming-of-age novel about loneliness, friendship, acceptance and, above all, hope.

Buy here*

The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams

Published: July 22nd, 2021
Publisher: Harper Collins UK

SYNOPSIS:
A new chapter is just beginning…

When Aleisha discovers a crumpled reading list tucked into a tattered library book, it sparks an extraordinary journey.

From timeless stories of love and friendship to an epic journey across the Pacific Ocean with a boy and a tiger in a boat, the list opens a gateway to new and wonderful worlds – just when Aleisha needs an escape from her troubles at home.

And when widower Mukesh arrives at the library, desperate to connect with his bookworm granddaughter, Aleisha introduces him to the magic of the reading list. An anxious teenager and a lonely grandfather forming an unlikely book club of two.

Inspiring and heartwarming, The Reading List is a love letter to storytelling – its power to transport us, connect us, and remind us that a new beginning is only a page away…

Book here*

Cicely by Annie Garthwaite

Published: July 29th, 2021
Publisher: Viking

SYNOPSIS:
‘Rebellion?’
The word is a spark. They can start a fire with it, or smother it in their fingertips.
She chooses to start a fire.

You are born high, but marry a traitor’s son. You bear him twelve children, carry his cause and bury his past.

You play the game, against enemies who wish you ashes. Slowly, you rise.

You are Cecily.

But when the king who governs you proves unfit, what then?

Loyalty or treason – death may follow both. The board is set. Time to make your first move.

Told through the eyes of its greatest unknown protagonist, this astonishing debut plunges you into the closed bedchambers and bloody battlefields of the first days of the Wars of the Roses, a war as women fight it.

Buy here*

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

Published: July 29th, 2021
Publisher: Hodder Books

SYNOPSIS:
What was it like? Living in that house.

Maggie Holt is used to such questions. Twenty-five years ago, she and her parents, Ewan and Jess, moved into a rambling Victorian estate called Baneberry Hall. They spent three weeks there before fleeing in the dead of night, an ordeal Ewan later recounted in a memoir called House of Horrors. His tale of ghostly happenings and encounters with malevolent spirits became a worldwide phenomenon.

Now, Maggie has inherited Baneberry Hall after her father’s death. She was too young to remember any of the events mentioned in her father’s book. But she doesn’t believe a word of it. Ghosts, after all, don’t exist.

But when she returns to Baneberry Hall to prepare it for sale, her homecoming is anything but warm. People from the pages of her father’s book lurk in the shadows, and locals aren’t thrilled that their small town has been made infamous. Even more unnerving is Baneberry Hall itself – a place that hints of dark deeds and unexplained happenings.

As the days pass, Maggie begins to believe that what her father wrote was more fact than fiction. That, either way, someone – or something – doesn’t want her here. And that she might be in danger all over again . . .

Buy here*

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Are any of these books on your TBR or wishlist? Let me know in the comments.

Thanks for reading this month’s list Bibliophiles😊 See you next month for more anticipated treasures, Emma xxx

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Cover Reveal Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Cover Reveal: A Cut For A Cut (Detective Kate Young 2) by Carol Wyer

I am thrilled to share with you the cover for A Cut For A Cut, the second installment in the fantastic Detective Kate Young series.

SYNOPSIS:

DI KATE YOUNG CAN’T TRUST ANYBODY. NOT EVEN HERSELF.

In the bleak countryside around Blithfield Reservoir, a serial murderer and rapist is leaving a trail of bloodshed. His savage calling card: the word ‘MINE’ carved into each of his victims.DI Kate Young struggles to get the case moving—even when one of the team’s own investigators is found dead in a dumpster. But Kate is battling her own demons. Obsessed with exposing Superintendent John Dickson and convinced there’s a conspiracy running deep in the force, she no longer knows who to trust. Kate’s crusade has already cost her dearly. What will she lose next?When her stepsister spills a long-buried secret, Kate realises she’s found the missing link—now she must prove it before the killer strikes again. With enemies closing in on all sides, she’s prepared to do whatever it takes to bring them down. But time is running out, and Kate’s past has pushed her to the very edge. Can she stop herself from falling?

Out June 24th, 2021

PRE-ORDER LINKS:

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

The Diabolical Bones by Bella Ellis

Published: November 5th, 2020
Publisher: Hodder Books
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery, Gothic Fiction, Mystery, Biographical Fiction

Welcome to my stop on the tour for this mesmerising novel. Thank you to Steve at Hodder Books for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.

SYNOPSIS:

It’s Christmas 1845 and Haworth is in the grip of a freezing winter.

Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë are rather losing interest in detecting until they hear of a shocking discovery: the bones of a child have been found interred within the walls of a local house, Top Withens Hall, home to the scandalous and brutish Bradshaw family.

When the sisters set off to find out more, they are confronted with an increasingly complex and sinister case, which leads them into the dark world of orphanages, and onto the trail of other lost, and likely murdered children. After another local boy goes missing, Charlotte, Emily and Anne vow to find him before it’s too late.

But in order to do so, they must face their most despicable and wicked adversary yet – one that would not hesitate to cause them the gravest of harm. . .

MY REVIEW:

“They had awoken a monster.”

Atmospheric, haunting luscious and exquisitely gothic, this was everything I dreamed it would be and more. The first installment of the Bronte Mysteries was one of my favourite books of 2019 and the second installment is one of my most highly anticipated books of this year. I had high hopes, which the author didn’t just meet, she completely smashed them, crafting an even better novel than its predecessor.

Once again the book opens with Charlotte, now the only remaining Bronte child, looking back at life when her siblings were still alive. This time she remembers a particularly sinister case back in December 1845.

A child’s bones are discovered interred within the chimney of a room that has been locked up for thirteen years at Top Withens Hall, home to the scandalous Bradshaw family. When they hear of the discovery, Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronte’s interest in detecting is renewed and they set out to investigate, unprepared for the dark and murky secrets they are about to uncover.

This was a book that delighted my soul, transporting me back to Victorian Yorkshire and immersing me in the sister’s world. The author seamlessly merges fact with fiction to craft a richly drawn story full of memorable characters, vivid imagery and gloriously gothic mystery. I struggled to put this one down, fighting against my need to sleep as I desperately tried to keep reading and get to the end in one sitting. My mind was a whirl of questions. And though my prediction turned out to be correct, I was still shocked by the revelations that were unveiled and on the edge of my seat as I approached the conclusion.

Mesmerising, eerie and surprising, The Diabolical Bones is a magnificent novel and an absolute must read for anyone who enjoys gothic or historical fiction or a good mystery. Creating a series where the famous Bronte sisters are also detectors is pure genius, and Bella Ellis executes it to perfection. It is just crying out to become a TV show. BBC; are you listening?

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Bella Ellis is the Brontë-esque pseudonym of an acclaimed author of numerous novels for adults and children. She first visited the former home of the Brontë sisters when she was ten years old. From the moment she stepped over the threshold she was hooked, and she embarked on a lifelong love affair with Charlotte, Emily, and Anne; their life; their literature; and their remarkable legacy.

Website| Instagram| Twitter| Facebook

BUY THE BOOK:

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Blog Tours book reviews

Somebody’s Daughter by Carol Wyer (Natalie Ward Book 7)

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Published: July 9th, 2020
Publisher: Bookouture
Format: Kindle, Paperback, Audio
Genre: Crime Fiction, Crime Series, Police Procedural, Mystery, Thriller

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this sensational thriller. Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part and the gifted eBook ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

One by one the girls disappeared…

When the frail body of a teenage girl is discovered strangled in a parking lot, shards of ice form in Detective Natalie Ward’s veins. As Natalie looks at the freckles scattered on her cheeks and the pale pink lips tinged with blue, she remembers that this innocent girl is somebody’s daughter…

The girl is identified as missing teenager Amelia Saunders, who has run away from home and her controlling father. Natalie’s heart sinks further when it becomes clear that Amelia has been working on the streets, manipulated by her violent new boyfriend Tommy.

A day later, another vulnerable girl is found strangled on a park bench. Like Amelia, Katie Bray was a runaway with connections to Tommy, and Natalie is determined to find him and track down the monster attacking these scared and lonely girls.

But when a wealthy young woman is found murdered the next morning, the word ‘guilty’ scrawled on her forehead, Natalie realises that the case is more complex than she first thought. Determined to establish a connection between her three victims, Natalie wastes no time in chasing down the evidence, tracing everyone who crossed their paths. Then, a key suspect’s body turns up in the canal, a mole in Natalie’s department leaks vital information and everything seems to be against her. Can Natalie stop this clever and manipulative killer before they strike again?

An unputdownable crime thriller from an Amazon bestselling author that will have you sleeping with the light on. This gripping rollercoaster ride is perfect for fans of Angela Marsons, Rachel Abbott and Rachel Caine. Prepare to be totally hooked!

MY REVIEW:

“Look around you. Do you really know what dark secrets your neighbour or your husband or your daughter are hiding? You judge people by how they look or how they seemingly live their lives, but if you could spend an hour in my shoes and really see what goes on, you would be horrified. Truly horrified. “

The discovery of the body of a teenage girl is the start of a new investigation for DCI Natalie Ward and her team. Amelia Saunders is a teenage runaway who worked the streets and was found strangled to death in a car park. Just a day later, the body of another vulnerable teenage girl is found on a park bench. Katie Bray was also a runaway who worked the streets and had connections to the same man thought to be Amelia’s pimp. But when the body of a wealthy woman is found with the word ‘guilty’ written on her forehead, the team is forced to reassess everything they thought they knew. As they search for a connection between her and the other victims, Natalie and her team are in a race against the clock to find their killer before they strike again.

Carol Wyer has done it again. This fast-paced, layered thriller was impossible to put down. In the seventh installment in the Natalie Ward Series we see a happier, more settled Natalie in her private life. But professionally, things are as intense and crazy as ever.  Natalie has recently been promoted to DCI, with Lucy Carmichael taking over her old role, and she and the team are still getting used to the new dynamics. There’s some tension in the ranks, Lucy feels unsure of her abilities, and someone is leaking information to the press; all while they are hunting a clever, confident and methodical killer and a case that keeps throwing up surprising developments at every turn. The pressure is as the body count increases and they race to stop the killer. 

As with all Wyer’s books, this is skillfully written and had me hooked from the first page. I found this one impossible to predict, keeping me on my toes and then knocking me for six with the big reveal. I feel like with each book she just gets better and better, proving why she is one of my favourite authors and her books are ones not to be missed.

Seven books in, I know Natalie and her team well, and I really enjoyed seeing a happier and more settled Natalie this time. I liked her and Mike together and she deserves a bit of a break. I liked that we also finally got some answers about why she is estranged from her sister, Frances, and am looking forward to seeing where the author takes that in the next book. Compelling, tense, intricate and twisty, Somebody’s Daughter is a spectacular thriller from a series every crime lover should read. And, please, someone pick this up for a TV series already!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Winner of The People’s Book Prize Award, Carol Wyer is a best-selling author and stand up comedian who writes feel-good comedies and gripping crime fiction.

A move to the ‘dark side’ in 2017, saw the introduction of popular DI Robyn Carter in LITTLE GIRL LOST, the #2 best-selling book on Amazon, #9 best-selling audiobook on Audible and Top 150 USA Today best-seller.

A second series featuring DI Natalie Ward quickly followed and to date her novels have sold over 750,000 copies and been translated for various overseas markets, including into Norwegian, Italian, Turkish, Hungarian Slovak, Czech and Polish.

Carol has been interviewed on numerous radio shows discussing ”Irritable Male Syndrome’ and ‘Ageing Disgracefully’ and on BBC Breakfast television. She has had articles published in national magazines ‘Woman’s Weekly’ featured in ‘Take A Break’, ‘Choice’, ‘Yours’ and ‘Woman’s Own’ magazines and the Huffington Post.

She currently lives on a windy hill in rural Staffordshire with her husband Mr Grumpy… who is very, very grumpy.

Website |Instagram|Twitter |Facebook

BUY THE BOOK:

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Somebody's Daughter - Blog Tour

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Blog Tours

Emma’s Anticipated Treasures – July 2020

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Another month, another round of anticipated books.

July is a month filled with great books and July 9th is rivaling February 6th for it’s bumper publication day spot; I could have easily added another four or five books out that day.

So here are the books out in July that I’m most excited about:

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Spirited by Julie Cohen
Published: July 9th, 2020
Publisher: Orion
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance

It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of Historical Fiction, and as soon as I saw the cover and read the synopsis of this book I was dying to read it. I’ve been lucky enough to get a spot on the blog tour for this so look out for my review on July 16th.

SYNOPSIS:
Viola has an impossible talent. Searching for meaning in her grief, she uses her photography to feel closer to her late father, taking solace from the skills he taught her – and to keep her distance from her husband. But her pictures seem to capture things invisible to the eye . . .

Henriette is a celebrated spirit medium, carrying nothing but her secrets with her as she travels the country. When she meets Viola, a powerful connection is sparked between them – but Victorian society is no place for reckless women.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, invisible threads join Viola and Henriette to another woman who lives in secrecy, hiding her dangerous act of rebellion in plain sight.

Faith. Courage. Love. What will they risk for freedom?

Driven by passionate, courageous female characters, SPIRITED is your next unforgettable read!

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The Shadow Friend by Alex North

Published: July 9th, 2020
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Horror Fiction, Police Procedural

The Whisper Man was one of my favourite books of last year so when I heard the author had a second book coming out it became a must-read. This one sounds just as chilling as his last book and I can’t wait to read it.

SYNOPSIS:
The victim was his friend. So was the murderer.

Twenty-five years ago, troubled teenager Charlie Crabtree committed a shocking and unprovoked murder.

For Paul Adams, it’s a day he’ll never forget. He’s never forgiven himself for his part in what happened to his friend and classmate. He’s never gone back home.

But when his elderly mother has a fall, it’s finally time to stop running.

It’s not long before things start to go wrong. A copycat killer has struck, bringing back painful memories. Paul’s mother insists there’s something in the house.

And someone is following him.

Which reminds him of the most unsettling thing about that awful day twenty-five years ago.

It wasn’t just the murder.

It was the fact that afterwards, Charlie Crabtree was never seen again . . .

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The Waiting Rooms by Eve Smith

Published: July 9th, 2020
Publisher: Orenda
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Mystery, Science Fiction, Urban Fiction, Dystopian Fiction

Orenda are one of my favourite publishers. I’ve loved everything I’ve read that they publish. When I heard about this earlier this year I instantly pre-ordered it and started the count down. Who would have thought it would become so timely by the time it was released. I’m on the blog tour for this one and my review will be published on June 18th.

SYNOPSIS:
Decades of spiraling drug resistance have unleashed a global antibiotic crisis. Ordinary infections are untreatable, and a scratch from a pet can kill. A sacrifice is required to keep the majority safe: no one over seventy is allowed new antibiotics. The elderly are sent to hospitals nicknamed ‘The Waiting Rooms’ … hospitals where no one ever gets well.

Twenty years after the crisis takes hold, Kate begins a search for her birth mother, armed only with her name and her age. As Kate unearths disturbing facts about her mother’s past, she puts her family in danger and risks losing everything. Because Kate is not the only secret that her mother is hiding. Someone else is looking for her, too.

Sweeping from an all-too-real modern Britain to a pre-crisis South Africa, The Waiting Rooms is epic in scope, richly populated with unforgettable characters, and a tense, haunting vision of a future that is only a few mutations away.

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If I Can’t Have You by Charlotte Levin

Published: July 9th, 2020
Publisher: Mantle
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Urban Fiction, Domestic Fiction, Romance

I am so excited to be taking part in the blog tour for this debut thriller. Look out for my review on July 16th.

SYNOPSIS:
What if the problem with your love life is you?

If I Can’t Have You by Charlotte Levin is an all-consuming novel about loneliness, obsession and how far we go for the ones we love.

Samuel, the day we met I knew I’d finally found what I’ve been waiting for.

You.

Happiness, at last.

Then you left me.

And now I am alone.

Everyone I love leaves in the end.

But not this time.

I’m not giving up on us.

I’m not giving up on you.

When you love someone, you never let them go.

That’s why for me, this is just beginning.

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How To Disappear by Gillian McAllister

Publisher: Michael Joseph
Published: July 9th, 2020
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Thriller,  Legal Thriller

Over the last few years Gillian McAllister has become a must-read author for me and her latest book sounds like it could be her best yet.

SYNOPSIS:
You can run, you can hide, but can you disappear for good?

Lauren’s daughter Zara witnessed a terrible crime. But speaking up comes with a price, and when Zara’s identity is revealed online, it puts a target on her back.

The only choice is to disappear.

To keep Zara safe, Lauren will give up everything and everyone she loves, even her husband.

There will be no goodbyes. Their pasts will be rewritten. New names, new home, new lives.

The rules are strict for a reason. They are being hunted. One mistake – a text, an Instagram like – could bring their old lives crashing into the new.

They can never assume someone isn’t watching, waiting.

As Lauren will learn, disappearing is easy. Staying hidden is harder . . .

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Somebody’s Daughter by Carol Wyer (Detective Natalie Ward 7)

Published: July 9th, 2020
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Mystery, Crime Fiction, Police Procedural

The Detective Natalie Ward Series is one of my favourites and any new installment makes my most anticipated list that month. Keep an eye out for my review as part of the blog tour on July 11th.

SYNOPSIS:
One by one the girls disappeared…

When the frail body of a teenage girl is discovered strangled in a parking lot, shards of ice form in Detective Natalie Ward’s veins. As Natalie looks at the freckles scattered on her cheeks and the pale pink lips tinged with blue, she remembers that this innocent girl is somebody’s daughter…

The girl is identified as missing teenager Amelia Saunders, who has run away from home and her controlling father. Natalie’s heart sinks further when it becomes clear that Amelia has been working on the streets, manipulated by her violent new boyfriend Tommy.

A day later, another vulnerable girl is found strangled on a park bench. Like Amelia, Katie Bray was a runaway with connections to Tommy, and Natalie is determined to find him and track down the monster attacking these scared and lonely girls.

But when a wealthy young woman is found murdered the next morning, the word ‘guilty’ scrawled on her forehead, Natalie realises that the case is more complex than she first thought. Determined to establish a connection between her three victims, Natalie wastes no time in chasing down the evidence, tracing everyone who crossed their paths. Then, a key suspect’s body turns up in the canal, a mole in Natalie’s department leaks vital information and everything seems to be against her. Can Natalie stop this clever and manipulative killer before they strike again.

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All My Lies Are True by Dorothy Koomson (Ice Cream Girls 2)

Published: July 9th, 2020
Publisher: Headline
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime Fiction

In May I took part in a readalong of The Ice Cream Girls with Tandem Collective. I loved the book so much that this one instantly went on my anticipated list for this month. You can imagine my excitement when I was offered the chance to take part in a readalong of the sequel. Keep an eye out for my posts on Instagram starting around June 25th.

SYNOPSIS:
Verity is telling lies…

And that’s why she’s about to be arrested for attempted murder.

Serena has been lying for years. . .
And that may have driven her daughter, Verity, to do something unthinkable…

Poppy’s lies have come back to haunt her . . .
So will her quest for the truth hurt everyone she loves?

Everyone lies.
But whose lies are going to end in tragedy?

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The Resident by David Jackson

Published: July 16th, 2020
Publisher: Viper
Genre: Mystery, Thriller

This is another thriller I’m excited to be on the blog tour for. Look out for my review on publication day.

SYNOPSIS:
THERE’S A SERIAL KILLER ON THE RUN
AND HE’S HIDING IN YOUR HOUSE

Thomas Brogan is a serial killer. Having left a trail of bodies in his wake, and with the police hot on his heels, it seems like Thomas has nowhere left to hide. That is until he breaks into an abandoned house at the end of a terrace on a quiet street. And when he climbs up into the loft, he realises that the can drop down into all the other houses on the street through the shared attic space.

That’s when the real fun begins. Because the one thing that Thomas enjoys even more than killing, is playing games with his victims. And his new neighbours have more than enough dark secrets to make this game his best one yet…

Do you fear The Resident? Soon you’ll be dying to meet him.

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The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue

Published: July 23rd, 2020
Published: Picador
Genre: Historical Fiction, Medical Fiction, Dystopian Fiction

Room is one of my favourite books of all time and I’m a huge fan of historical and medical fiction, so I have high hopes for this novel.

SYNOPSIS:
In an Ireland doubly ravaged by war and disease, Nurse Julia Power works at an understaffed hospital in the city centre, where expectant mothers who have come down with an unfamiliar Flu are quarantined together. Into Julia’s regimented world step two outsiders: Doctor Kathleen Lynn, on the run from the police, and a young volunteer helper, Bridie Sweeney.

In the darkness and intensity of this tiny ward, over three days, these women change each other’s lives in unexpected ways. They lose patients to this baffling pandemic, but they also shepherd new life into a fearful world. With tireless tenderness and humanity, carers and mothers alike somehow do their impossible work.

In The Pull of the Stars, Emma Donoghue once again finds the light in the darkness in this classic story of hope and survival against all odds.

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Precious You by Helen Monks Takhar

Published: July 23rd, 2020
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Noir Ficiton

Ever since I first heard about this debut thriller last year I’ve been desperate to read it. I’m hoping to be on the blog tour for this one so keep an eye out for my review next month.

SYNOPSIS:

She’s got your job. She wants your life

When Katherine first meets her new intern Lily, she’s captivated. Young, beautiful and confident, Lily reminds Katherine of everything she once was – and it’s not long before she develops a dark fascination with her new colleague.

But is Lily as perfect as she seems, or does she have a sinister hidden agenda? As Katherine is drawn into an obsessive power struggle with the intern, a disturbing picture emerges of two women hiding dark secrets – and who are desperate enough to do anything to come out on top…

Breathlessly addictive and deeply unsettling, Precious You is a thriller like no other. Taut, terrifying and with shocking twists at every turn, it will keep you guessing until the very last page.

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The Orphan Collector by Ellen Marie Wiseman

Published: July 28th, 2020
Publisher: Kensington Publishing
Genre: Historical Fiction, Coming-of-Age Fiction

As soon as I read the synopsis of this novel I knew I had to read it. As with The Waiting Rooms and The Pull of the Stars it also feels like a particularly timely read right now.

SYNOPSIS:
Ellen Marie Wiseman, acclaimed author of What She Left Behind and The Life She Was Given, weaves the stories of two very different women into a page-turning novel as suspenseful as it is poignant, set amid one of history’s deadliest pandemics.

In the fall of 1918, thirteen-year-old German immigrant Pia Lange longs to be far from Philadelphia’s overcrowded streets and slums, and from the anti-German sentiment that compelled her father to enlist in the U.S. Army, hoping to prove his loyalty. But an even more urgent threat has arrived. Spanish influenza is spreading through the city. Soon, dead and dying are everywhere. With no food at home, Pia must venture out in search of supplies, leaving her infant twin brothers alone . . .

Since her baby died days ago, Bernice Groves has been lost in grief and bitterness. If doctors hadn’t been so busy tending to hordes of immigrants, perhaps they could have saved her son. When Bernice sees Pia leaving her tenement across the way, she is buoyed by a shocking, life-altering decision that leads her on a sinister mission: to transform the city’s orphans and immigrant children into what she feels are “true Americans.”

As Pia navigates the city’s somber neighborhoods, she cannot know that her brothers won’t be home when she returns. And it will be a long and arduous journey to learn what happened–even as Bernice plots to keep the truth hidden at any cost. Only with persistence, and the courage to face her own shame and fear, will Pia put the pieces together and find the strength to risk everything to see justice at last.

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The Butterfly Lampshade by Aimee Bender
Published July 30th, 2020
Publisher: Hutchinson
Genre: Literary Fiction

I’ll admit it was the cover that initially drew me to this book, but it was the synopsis that earned it’s place on this list. This one sounds like a powerful novel that will linger long after reading.

SYNOPSIS:
On the night her mother is taken to a mental hospital after a psychotic episode, eight year-old Francie is staying with her babysitter. Next to the couch on which she’s sleeping, there is a lamp that catches her eye, its shade adorned with butterflies. When she wakes, Francie sees a dead butterfly floating in a glass of water. She drinks it before the babysitter can see.

Twenty years later, Francie is compelled to make sense of that moment, and two other incidents – her discovery of a desiccated beetle from a school paper, and a bouquet of dried roses from some curtains. Her recall is exact: she is sure these things were real. But despite her certainty, she wrestles with the hold these memories have over her, and with what they say about her place in the world.

Told in lush, lilting prose, The Butterfly Lampshade is a heartfelt and heartbreaking examination of the sometimes overwhelming power of the material world, and of a broken love between mother and child.

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Blog Tours book reviews

The Secret Admirer by Carol Wyer (Detective Natalie Ward Book 6) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Publisher: Bookouture
Published: April 2nd, 2020
Format: Kindle
Genre: Crime Fiction, Police Procedural, Thriller

Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part and the eBook ARC of this novel .

SYNOPSIS:

‘I tried to talk to you today but you snubbed me and walked away. It wasn’t wise to give me the brush-off, Gemma. I can be a truly good friend but I also make the perfect enemy.’

Sasha’s eighteen-year-old daughter Gemma was all she had in the world. Sasha fell pregnant with Gemma when she was still at school, and the two are as close as sisters. So when Gemma’s burned and broken body is found, Sasha’s world ends. What kind of person would want her beautiful daughter dead?

Leading the case is Detective Natalie Ward, scarred by her own recent tragedy. When she finds a note in Gemma’s diary from ‘a secret admirer’, she moves quickly, determined to un-mask them. But interviews with Gemma’s devastated ex-boyfriend, and her charismatic teacher, who has been seen embracing his student far away from the classroom, don’t give Natalie the answers she’d hoped for…

And then the case takes a devastating, personal twist. CCTV footage reveals Natalie’s estranged husband David followed Gemma home every evening the week before she died.

Natalie is forced to put personal feelings aside and follow procedure, even though she can’t believe David could be guilty. But when Gemma’s housemate is found murdered, Natalie thinks the killer could still be at large. Is she right to trust her instincts about David and can she discover the truth before another precious life is taken?

MY REVIEW:

The Secret Admirer is another fantastic and gripping installment in one of my favourite series. Once again Carol has written a tense, electrifying and emotional read that had me hooked from the first page.

After 19-year-old Gemma Barnes is killed in an acid attack, Detective Natalie Ward and her team are called in to investigate. It is Natalie’s first day back since a personal tragedy and she is still struggling with her guilt and grief. There are few clues and when Gemma’s housemates start to disappear, the race is on to find who is behind the murders.

Natalie and the team are back investigating a complex case filled with a multitude of characters and suspects. I loved that there wasn’t a clear culprit and that you feel like it could be anyone, giving a sense of frustration that matches what is felt by the team. You can feel the pressure mounting as the numerous motives, clues, red herrings and twists keep both the reader and the team on their toes right until the very end.

The letters from the secret admirer were the key to the case, and the mystery of who was behind them was the biggest of all. Including letters or chapters from the mysterious culprit is one of my favourite tropes in this genre and this author always executes it to perfection. I enjoyed the glimpse into the mind, feelings and perspective of such a twisted individual and how you could see them losing control as the letters went on and they began to become threatening.

Each time I read an installment in this series I love the author even more. Her writing is always brilliant and full of the perfect mixture of suspense and sentiment. In this book, there is a lot of focus on Natalie coming to terms with losing someone close and the end of her marriage. Just reading about the aftermath of the events of the last book had me in pieces all over again. As someone currently undergoing trauma therapy, I found Natalie’s trauma to be sensitively and expertly written. It was clear it was well researched and felt very real, my heart breaking for Natalie as she battles to move on with life after such a devastating tragedy. However, I was ready to be mad and bereft all over again when Natalie’s ex-husband David came into the frame as a suspect in this case. How could you do this to us and Natalie after all she’s been through? It had me on the edge of my seat praying that he wasn’t the culprit. You’ll have to read it to find out if Natalie’s world is broken even more by the events of this book.

The Secret Admirer is a riveting, compelling and heart-rending thriller that is perfect for anyone who enjoys this genre. You can read it as a stand-alone but I would highly recommend reading the whole series, not only because it’s fantastic, but because it gives you an insight and connection to the main characters. Now I just have to wait impatiently for book seven!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Carol Wyer garnered a loyal following as an author of romantic comedies, and won The People’s Book Prize Award for non-fiction (2015). In 2017 she stepped from comedy to the “dark side” and embarked on a series of thrillers, featuring the popular DI Robyn Carter, which earned her recognition as a crime writer.

The Staffordshire-based writer now has more crime novels in the pipeline, although she can still sometimes be found performing her stand-up comedy routine Laugh While You Still Have Teeth.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

Website
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Twitter

BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon

The Sexret Admirer - Blog Tour Poster

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Blog Tours book reviews

The Blossom Twins by Carol Wyer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for the fifth installment in this sensational crime series. Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part, and to Bookouture, NetGalley and Carol Wyer for my copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

SYNOPSIS:

Their parents thought they were hiding..

One beautiful summer’s evening, thirteen-year-old-twins Ivy and Erin Westmore snuggle down in a tent in their back garden, giggling and sharing secrets.

When their mother goes to wake the girls the next morning, their tent is empty.

The alarm is raised and Detective Natalie Ward is put on the case. When the twins’ bodies are discovered on nearby marshland, covered with deep pink petals, an icy shiver travels down Natalie’s spine. Everything about the girls’ deaths reminds her of a horrifying case she worked on earlier in her career, which saw a killer of the worst kind placed behind bars.

The next day, that feeling is heightened when she receives a chilling note saying ‘I’m back’. Is this killer a copycat or did Natalie put the wrong person in prison all those years ago? In a small town, where no stranger goes unnoticed, what is Natalie missing?

Consumed by the case, determined to prevent more deaths, Natalie misses the fact that it is her attention the killer wants. And to get it, he has his sights set firmly on her precious daughter, Leigh..

Gripping, fast-paced and nail-bitingly tense, this book will keep you flying through the pages long into the night. Perfect for fans of Angela Marsons, Rachel Abbott and Karin Slaughter.

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MY REVIEW:

OMG! Carol, you broke me. I felt utterly bereft after the emotional journey from reading this book and it took days to recover. The fifth installment in the Detective Natalie Ward series may have a sweet, floral title but behind it Carol’s most shocking, jaw-dropping and emotional book to date. I quickly devoured it, filled with an urgent need for answers, only to be left wishing I hadn’t found them. This is her best novel yet and shows just why this woman is one of my favourite, must-read crime writers.

When fourteen-year-old Isabella Sharpe disappears during a concert a search soon leads to the discovery of her body. Detective Natalie Ward and her team are called to investigate and the macabre scene immediately reminds her of the first murders she investigated – The Blossom Twins. Those devastating crimes shattered Natalie and the mistakes made haunt her to this day. She tells herself she’s overthinking – the killer was found and died in prison – but she can’t seem to shake her suspicions. 

Twins Ivy and Erin Westmore go missing while camping in their back garden and soon the girls’ bodies are found chillingly posed just like the Blossom Twins. Details that were never made public are identical. Is this the work of a copycat or did Natalie get the wrong man? She and her team race to find answers before more innocent lives are taken.

After four previous books it’s fair to say I’m attached to these characters and they feel like old friends. That made this a hard book to read as Natalie and her husband David are now separated but living in the same house and haven’t told the kids. He’s hoping for a reconciliation, she’s looking forward but is also battling immense guilt over how her children will take the news. This storyline is a big part of the book and Natalie’s emotional turmoil isn’t helped by her new case having disturbing similarities to an old case that haunts her to this day, a new boss that talks to her like she’s imcompitent, or the arrival of a former nemesis charged with helping the team find their killer. 

The addition of John Briggs to the team added an extra dose of tension and drama to the story. He and Natalie worked together on the Blossom Twins case and its clear there’s no love lost between them. He rubs the whole team up the wrong way with his brash, aggressive and insensitive manner and consistently undermines Natalie by going behind her back to their boss questioning her capability to solve the case. I hated him. He was a perfect nemesis for Natalie and though I love how well the team usually work together, it was interesting to see how she reacted to someone who isn’t a team player and was determined to get in her way.

As is usually the case with Carol’s books, my favourite parts were those where we get the killer’s point of view. He’s manipulative, callous, cocky, twisted and sent a chill down my spine. It was terrifying how in control he is and how detailed his plans are. The flashbacks revealed just how far he would go to get what he wanted and how sinister he was. I had some wild theories about who this person was and I went through many different suspects, telling myself I must be wrong with the two I had the most suspicion of. It was a puzzle I couldn’t solve, which is something I love when reading this genre.

So if you want a fast-paced, nail-biting, addictive, heartbreaking and thrilling book then look no further. More than ever I’m desperate to know what is next for Natalie and her team. Though I’m a bit scared of what Carol might do next.

Out now.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Winner of The People’s Book Prize Award, Carol Wyer is an award-winning author and stand up comedian who writes feel-good comedies and gripping crime fiction.

A move to the ‘dark side’ in 2017, saw the introduction of popular DI Robyn Carter in LITTLE GIRL LOST, the #2 best-selling book on Amazon, #9 best-selling audiobook on Audible and Top 150 USA Today best-seller.

A second series featuring DI Natalie Ward quickly followed and to date her crime novels have sold over 600,000 copies and been translated for various overseas markets, including Norwegian, Italian, Turkish, Hungarian Slovak, Czech and Polish.

Carol has been interviewed on numerous radio shows discussing ”Irritable Male Syndrome’ and ‘Ageing Disgracefully’ and on BBC Breakfast television. She has had articles published in national magazines ‘Woman’s Weekly’ featured in ‘Take A Break’, ‘Choice’, ‘Yours’ and ‘Woman’s Own’ magazines and the Huffington Post.

She currently lives on a windy hill in rural Staffordshire with her husband Mr Grumpy… who is very, very grumpy.

To learn more about Carol, go to http://www.carolwyer.co.uk or follow Carol on Twitter: @carolewyer.

Carol also blogs at http://www.carolwyer.com

The Blossom Twins - Blog Tour Poster

Categories
book reviews

Her Dark Heart by Carla Kovach ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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SYNOPSIS:

Rory is waiting at the door of the pre-school – a painted picture of his mother Susan in his small hand. But Susan isn’t going to see the picture, because she has vanished.

Susan Wheeler is a devoted mother. She would do anything for her three children. She drops them off and picks them up every single day. Until one day when Susan kisses them goodbye and then never comes to pick them up.

Susan’s mother Mary is worried. Susan is recently divorced and has been finding things hard recently, but she loves her kids – she’d never leave them.

Susan’s sister Clare is furious. It’s just like her to go missing. It’s not the first time either. Susan has always been a troublemaker. Always seeking attention. She knows Susan has been lying to the family for years. And she knows that Susan has been sneaking out of her family home for weeks…

As the hours turn into days, even Clare becomes fearful for Susan. And when Mary discovers Susan’s diary, she begins to uncover a dark secret from her childhood. Something no one in the family knew. When the  final diary entry leads the police to a man who is discovered dead in a local park, they’re left wondering if Susan vanished because she is a victim. Or because she is a suspect.

MY REVIEW:

She’s done it again. This is another winning installment in the Detective Gina Harte series. Gripping, tense, thrilling and unputdownable, I flew through it in under a day. 

Susan Wheeler is a devoted mum to her three children. She’s going through an acrimonious divorce but it is out of character when she not only doesn’t turn up to collect her youngest child, two-year-old Rory from pre-school, but also doesn’t come home that night or the next day. Her mother Mary is worried but her sister, Clare, and ex-husband, Ryan, think it’s a bid for attention. Finally, Mary calls the police and Gina and her team are assigned to the case. 

There are few clues but Susan’s diary leads them to a man who was possibly the last person to see her before she disappeared. But he’s found dead, having been brutally beaten and tortured before he was strangled to death. Is Susan a victim or did she have some part in this man’s death? The team keep digging but the missing pieces of the puzzle seem to elude them and Gina gets the sense there’s things the family aren’t telling her. It’s a race against the clock to put the pieces together, get to the truth and find Susan before she or someone else turns up dead. 

Her Dark Heart is the fifth book in this series and it lives up to the high bar that’s been set in the others. While knowledge from the other book does help with things like Gina’s backstory and character relationships it is still possible to read this as a standalone. The author is skilled in writing twisty crime fiction full of relatable characters and bad guys that make your skin crawl. 

Some of my favourite parts were from the chapters narrated by our mystery perpetrator. He was sinister, repulsive, delusional, and is determined to inflict his wrath and revenge for what happened all those years ago; though we don’t yet know what occurred. These chapters revved up the tension and had me on the edge of my seat as I tried to figure things out. There were a plethora of suspects but I couldn’t predict who he was or exactly why he was doing this. I did manage to guess part of it correctly but I was still blindsided by the revelations that came as we reached the jaw-dropping finale.

As with the author’s other books there are deeper themes running through this book than what appears on the surface. This time it’s secrets. Susan and her family are all harbouring various secrets and Gina is facing the emotional consequences of secrets she has kept for decades. While the Collins family’s secrets have led to Susan’s abduction and threaten to tear their family apart, Gina is missing her mother and feeling she has no right to grieve for not being there when she died because of the invisible chains her abusive late husband kept her in and how keeping the abuse secret led to their estrangement. It shows us how secrets can snowball, with devastating and catastrophic results.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys crime fiction and police procedurals. If you haven’t read the previous books in the series then check those out too. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture for my copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Out today.